20 Stunning Examples of Food Photography & Tips for Effective Shooting

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Food photography, while being a specialized type of still life art form, has already formed its own following. From amateurs taking pictures of what they had for lunch to award-winning photographers celebrating a collection of cultures, food photography has us engaged.

The art of food photography is a precise one as well, requiring an understanding of spacing, distance, color, and focus. Today we share some useful tips and tricks to make your food appear to be the best that money can buy.

1. Equipment

Professional photographers use expensive digital backs on equally costly cameras, but the barrier to entry isn’t that high. All you’ll need is a DSLR or an advanced point-and-shoot that will let you make adjustments to your shots.

The most important characteristic of your camera is the ability to tweak its settings instead of relying on automatic modes. For DSLRs, interchangeable lenses are a must for taking photographs of different subjects. Tripods are also essential to keep your shots steady.

Optional tools include lamp stands for external lighting, as well as lens shades to control the light. Don’t forget the accessories to complement your food, like bowls, napkins, silverware, and flowers.

Pancake egg toast banana plate spoon fork food photography

2. Camera Settings

We touched upon this in the last section, but for food photography, it’s essential that your camera has the ability to manually change the settings. It’s the only way you can focus on the minute details of the food and highlight the features you want to emphasize.

Take note of your aperture, which controls how much light will hit your sensor. A low aperture setting will let in more light, resulting in brighter photographs. Its partner, shutter speed, controls how long the shutter is open. You usually adjust both these settings to compensate for changes in one setting with the other.

The third important setting is ISO, which controls your camera’s sensitivity to light. A higher ISO is used in darker scenes, but will result in a grainier photograph.

camera iso settings fujifilm food photography

3. Composition

Having the right equipment and understanding the camera settings is nothing if you don’t know how to compose your shot. Food photographs are usually crisp and well lit, bringing out the texture of the food. Your goal is to feed your readers through their eyes, making them want to reach out to the photo and nab the food.

When composing, remember that the food itself shouldn’t be the only thing in the shot. The bowl or plate that holds the food (or even a napkin or a spoon) frames the subject in such a way that the accessories emphasize its presence. Avoid blank spaces and create a sense of movement in the image—crumbs, flakes, all in a natural position.

pancake orange tangerine plate bluebrry display food photography

4. Lighting

Natural lighting is always recommended for food shots. While your eyes (and brain) can adapt to any light and reconcile what the food is supposed to look like, cameras aren’t at the same level and need all the help they can get.

Ample light source is one of the most critical elements of food photography — find your light source and compose around it. Do you use the light shafts streaming through the window or the increased light available coming in the doorway? Lighting brings out the food’s natural color, which is very important in keeping your subjects appetizing and appealing.

pizza wine red lighting display food photography

5. Angle

Like in any mode of photography, angle is critical in bringing out the best in your subjects. This is particularly important in food photography because the shots are so close.

Some foods are best shot from above, like grains and cereal (with bits outside the bowl to create dynamism). Others, meanwhile, are best shot from an angle, such as cakes with layers.

Angle comes after composition—you don’t want to have to think about the silverware and the napkins when the food is ready to be shot.

chocolate cake slice plate wooden spoon display food photography

6. Focus

Focus changes the primary elements of your shot. You wouldn’t want the fork to be the main subject in your picture of a cake, after all.

Focus is a result of the different settings and techniques working together, and is also influenced the camera’s distance from the subject. However, if your camera’s autofocus isn’t cutting it, you can also manually adjust this setting to focus on the subject you want.

How deep or short will the depth of field be? Because food photography relies so much on macro, having an understanding of focus is important.

macro photography cupcake chocolate display food photography


Of course, these tips all lead up to the shot itself. If you want to do more with the photo, you can always edit them after the fact. But if your photo isn’t good in the first place, there won’t be anything to touch up.

Food Photography Inspiration

Here are some fantastic examples of food photography for your inspiration:

assorted fruits on brown wooden bowls food photography inspiration
Jimmy Dean

cooked pasta food photography inspiration
Amirali Mirhashemian

Cheesy Burger Sandwich food photography inspiration
Wilson Vitorino

baked pancakes food photography inspiration
Chad Montano

toast bread blueberry black plate food photography inspiration
Joseph Gonzalez

burger skewered with knife near black textile food photography inspiration
Lidye

Homemade Bread food photography inspiration
Foodie Girl

Fresh Bean Salad food photography inspiration
Foodie Factor

dish white ceramic plate food photography inspiration
Jay Wennington

Tomato Pizza food photography inspiration
Lum3n

cooked noodles shrimp food photography inspiration
Olayinka Babalola

assorted fruits vegetable brown wooden chopping board food photography inspiration
Ella Olsson

People Carrying Burgers food photography inspiration
Denys Gromov

Holiday Egg Nog food photography inspiration
Foodie Factor

burger fries food photography inspiration
Jonathan Borba

pizza table selection chicken people eating dinner outside food photography inspiration
Spencer Davis

homemade burger chips fries glasses chopping board food photography inspiration
Dana Tentis

skewers man Hamburger cheese food photography inspiration
Oliver Sjöström

Gourmet Pasta Dish food photography inspiration
Foodie Factor


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